Share |
The truths they don't want you to read....

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Renewable energy - manifestos

Having reviewed the manifestos, it appears that every party claims to be very keen to support renewable energy in every form, whether it is wind, wave, tidal or solar. A few also support nuclear, but they're not in the running anyway.

Reviewing as many candidates statements as I can, I have yet to find a single candidate who is actively advocating renewable energy for their particular area. Indeed, most seem to be actively against any and every proposal for their particular ward or constituency.

If anyone can identify a candidate asking for renewable energy to come to their area, then I'll be happy to give them the due publicity.

It strikes me that everyone is paying lip-service to renewables and no-one is prepared to actually DO anything in their area.


Anonymous said...

It strikes me that everyone is paying lip-service to renewables and no-one is prepared to actually DO anything in their area.

Quite possibly because there's absolutely no net benefit in onshore wind, which is the favored technology at the moment. It's well adverted that not one iota of C02 emissions can be reduced, simply because the conventional plants must run regardless. That being so, 'wind' is about as economically useful as 't_ts on a bull', as they say.

Were Government to commit subsidies to offshore wind, or to tidal/wave, on the same scale as it has to onshore wind, you'd probably see a lot more interest in those alternatives. At least they'd provide more reliable outcomes.

One way or another, Scotland WILL see more conventional and nuke plants being built, from sheer necessity--and I wager you'll see more support for them after the first few wind-induced blackouts.

Me, I'd opt to invest in any publicly listed companies that build such plants--it may take a decade or so, but my hot tip of the day is to put your money into such firms--perhaps about the time folk realize that wind isn't such a hot idea after all.

After all, new reactor builds are at record levels; so are new conventional builds worldwide....

Anonymous said...

is there no way to make wind power storable - how do houses and such which rely on wind energy get along when it stops blowing - and I for one will not stop protesting at each and every neuclear facility that is built

Angus said...

Yes. Hydrogen cells (such as those being developed at Lews Castle College) will act as batteries or pump-storage facilities.

We have the chance to be the European leaders in this, if we just bite the bullet.

Anonymous said...

One bites the bullet, Angus, because there is about to be a great deal of pain inflicted upon oneself, is that what you mean?

Anonymous said...

is there no way to make wind power storable - how do houses and such which rely on wind energy get along when it stops blowing

That's a valid question, Anon.

On the surface, yes, you'd think that one could build 'H2 cells' to store electricity, and voila: problem solved.

The reality isn't quite so simple (when is it, ever?).

The biggest and most advanced fuel cell research is being sponsored by the major auto manufacturers, for obvious reasons. What they've found is that such cells are potentially feasible for small scale use (ie, cars), but are not useful for large-scale energy storage, ie to supply power to communities.

Further, the technology is quite expensive to implement, and relies upon rare earths for the actual cells (which pushes costs up further). There are several other technical problems which make any use of H2 cells as a storage medium a prospect for the future--and even then, on a relatively small scale.

If you're interested in monitoring progress in this field, I suggest you keep an eye on the auto manufacturers--they are solidly in the lead, and tend to publicize their advances quite openly.

The second major problem is that 'wind power' is not only intermittent, but generates at a substantially lower level than any conventional station. Whether you're able to store it or not, the total size of the pie is a lot less than the output of a fossil-fuel station; so there's really not a whole lot of point trying to store something which is scarce in relative terms in any case--and a lot more expensive than conventional electricity.

At this point in time, storing wind generated electricity would simply mean adding more cost to a product which is already nearly 2.5 times as expensive as conventional, which I wager wouldn't be welcome by the consumer.

- and I for one will not stop protesting at each and every neuclear facility that is built

Depending upon how you look at it, the flood of wind farm approvals has set a precedent which is 'good' or 'bad': it doesn't matter what the local community thinks, or how many folk oppose a project: if government wants it, it'll be built. That much, at least, has been proved out.

The Western Isles, and the rest of the UK, must live with the fact that the population have precisely zero say in what gets built, and where. And no matter how 'green' the major parties are trying to be, the fact remains that Scotland will need a reliable baseload on the grid, now and in future. As older conventional plants are decommissioned, newer ones will be built, or else nuke plants will be approved.

I suspect the latter, since fossil-fuel prices will continue to rise henceforth, making nuclear--already the cheapest form of electricity over time--even more attractive.

That's the economic imperative: reliable, abundant electricity. Scotland must make its choice, and I suspect that, kicking and screaming all the while, it'll end up choosing 'nuclear'--no matter which party is in power.

AIF said...

Ghawar is dying. Lets debate the need for rapid development of alternatives with that in mind instead of always going back to global warming as the only threat to our ability to survive as a species.Why is Michael Meacher the only semi prominent politician to have even acknowledged this prospect?

George Dutton said...

Many people don`t know that you can get oil/petrol/diesel from coal.The UK has at least 300 years of proven coal reserves,some say 600 years?.That is the problem misinformation,I wonder why? could it be that it is not in the interest of some for us the people to know the truth, the nuclear industries interest for one and of course the old enemy the oil companies,and yes the politicians who have their hands in the till (as always).
The UK WAS the leader in clean coal technology but Thatcher closed it down when she came to power once again it was not in the interest of a few.

Just copy and paste into address bar in three parts.

AIF said...

The Fischer-Tropsch process? According to the BP statistical review of 2006*, in 2005 World coal reserves stood at 909000 million tonnes whilst oil consumption was 3800 million tonnes (both figures rounded for simplicity). It takes around about 3 units of coal to synthesise 1 unit of crude oil (this is the most efficient claim I can find for the process). So, using a very crude and simple calculation known reserves of coal could provide about 80 years worth of crude oil at the 2005 level of demand.

If you look at total world production of coal for 2005, we have 5853 million tonnes from which you could theoretically synthesise 1951 tonnes of crude which is slightly over 50% of demand for 2005. Great, only most of this coal was needed for heating and electricity production. Whilst I know you are not suggesting that we switch from oil wells to oil mines overnight, if coal is to make up for the increasing shortfall due to declining conventional reserves and get us up to the estimated requirement of 125 million barrels per day whilst still heating and powering a significant proportion of the industrialised world, we would have to ramp up production soon.

Other problems: a large proportion of the energy used to mine coal comes from oil, not all coal is suitable for this process, and most importantly energy returned from the process is nothing like as favourable as that from conventional oil production (this is a very important concept when comparing potential energy sources, see here for a good grounding in energy accounting).

Better get going while oil prices are relatively low. When you take all unconventional sources into account, they will push out the peak by a few years, but they will not stop it from happening. Whilst I wish it were so, I don't think greedy oil companies trying to make billions no matter the consequences is the reason for these alternatives not taking off, I think the reason is it would represent a step back; the first time we as a species had moved from a superior source of energy to an inferior one.

*I would take the proven oil reserves part of the BP review with a pinch of salt. They simply report what they are told in some cases. As you can see in the late 80s and early 90s, despite no major discoveries and pumping billions of barrels of oil since, the major OPEC countries continue to revise their estimated ultimate reserves up. Unfortunately, no independent audit of these countries fields is allowed. Would you invest in a company if it told you it had made 10 trillion dollars last year but when you asked them prove it you were told, "No, just take our word for it please"?!